Public schools have, and still are, the mainstay of the American education system. These schools are funded through tax dollars that every person pays whether in sales taxes, personal property taxes or both. Recent surveys have shown that 91% of school aged children attend public schools nationally. That is a huge number, but not surprising. Since public schools are funded through tax dollars, we don’t see that money, so we don’t feel that we are spending the money for our children’s education. The truth of the matter is this, although it appears that public education is “FREE”, it is far from it. In fact, according to governing.com, the average cost to educate a child in a public school in the Commonwealth of Virginia is $11,237. In comparison, according privateschoolreview.com, the average private school tuition in the Commonwealth is $10,731 for elementary students, and $15,558 for High School students.
The tuition for Mountain View Christian Academy is $6885 per year for K-6 grades, and $7970 per year for 7-12 grades.
So why does school choice matter? Why should we have a week that celebrates school choice?
The reason it matters is that, as parents, we should not be forced to place our children in a school just because we live in a certain district. We have the ability to make every other choice for our children, but for some reason the government feels that they know better when it comes to their education, and where they should be attending. The school choice initiative also matters because as parents we know, and learned very early in life, that not every block fits in the same hole. A square doesn’t fit in a circle and a triangle doesn’t fit in a square. The same can be said for children. Some may do very well in the public school setting, but some may not for varying reasons. We should be able to place our children in the school that will best fit their learning and social styles, and at the same time, we should be able to apply for state help for private schools since we are no longer utilizing the public system, yet still paying for it through our taxes.
Another reason that I feel School Choice matters is this. For years we have complained about the value of public schools and their ability to truly prepare children or the future and make them competitive on a world-wide scale. By creating a market-place where parents are given an incentive to send their child to a private school because they believe their child will receive a better education, will create a competitive atmosphere, and cause the public schools to think outside the box of traditional education standards in order to recruit and retain students. It also creates the need for private schools to stay focused on the child and to meet the value-proposition that parents are expecting when they are making such a monetary investment in their child’s education.
The reason we celebrate school choice this week is because parents have a choice for their children. We celebrate because states are beginning to provide incentives for parents to send their children to private schools. But there is still work to be done. For instance, in the Commonwealth of Virginia, there is one program available to parents to receive a tax credit Scholarship. This program is called the Education Improvement Scholarships Tax Credits Program. According to edchoice.com, “This program offers a 65% tax credit to individuals and businesses that donate to qualified Scholarship Foundations(SF’S). The SF’s then provide private school scholarships to students whose families meet the income requirements.” For more information about the income requirements, which are higher than one would think, you can go to edchoice.com or go to www.doe.virginia.gov/school_finace/scholarships_tax_credits/
I believe that school choice and the financial incentive for private schools should be open to any parent who makes a decision that their child would benefit more from a private school education. The average scholarship in Virginia was $3,134 per student for the 2016-2017 school year. When you do the math, the state still comes out ahead almost $8000.
According to the National School Choice week website, (schoolchoiceweek.com) “Research shows that when parents are empowered to choose the education environments that they believe work best for their kids, students are more likely to succeed and graduate from high school. That is because every child is unique, and students thrive when they’re matched with learning environments that meet their individual needs.”
That is what education is all about. It is about the child and the child’s ability to learn and grow in an environment that best suits their needs. The only people who know what those needs are is the parent and the child.
For more about how you can make the school choice initiative even better in Virginia, visit schoolchoiceweek.com and download the “School Choice tips for parents” page.
For more information about Mountain View Christian Academy, fill out the contact form or call the office at 540-868-1231.
Have a blessed week celebrating school choice. I’ll talk to you later.